Arugam Bridge PR

30 December 2008

U.S. Completes Tsunami Rebuilding Projects in Sri Lanka, Maldives

Long-term work helps build economies, improve lives

People walking and driving over bridge (USAID)

Arugam Bay Bridge, built with the help of USAID, links ethnically diverse communities along the east coast of Sri Lanka.

Washington a?? Four years ago, the Indian Ocean tsunami swept over coastal lands in Asia and Africa, killing more than 200,000 people, destroying cities and crippling the ability of the remaining millions to survive.

In 2008 in Sri Lanka, the U.S. Agency for International Development completed a new bridge, built and equipped nine vocational schools, rehabilitated three damaged fishing harbors, installed a water supply system and built 87 childrena??s play parks. Scores of additional USAID projects resulted in new and rebuilt schools, libraries and roads.

a??Our goal was to build back better than what was there previously,a?? said Rebecca Cohn, USAIDa??s mission director in Sri Lanka.

To ease ethnic tensions in southern and eastern Sri Lanka among communities of Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslims, USAID carefully balanced reconstruction projects to equally benefit all groups, she said.

The recent work capped years of assistance to the country, which began with an immediate response from the U.S. government, American people and private U.S. organizations to provide emergency assistance to local communities recovering from the damage, Cohn said.

Total USAID funding for tsunami relief and reconstruction in Sri Lanka has been more than $134 million, with an additional $3 million for the Republic of Maldives. USAID helped get new water treatment plants into operation in Maldives in 2008.

Private U.S. organizations a?? including AmeriCares, the Bush Clinton Foundation, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Mellon Foundation, Prudential Insurance Company of America and Chevron-Caltex a?? provided almost $5 million for reconstruction.


The new Arugam Bay Bridge unites nearly 45,000 residents of three ethnically diverse communities in Pottuvil, Arugam Bay and Panama, by linking southeastern coastal towns to the rest of the Sri Lankan mainland.

Unexpectedly, because of lights that illuminate the 185-meter (200-yard) bridge at night, a??the bridge has become a place for families to socialize in the evenings and an informal community meeting place,a?? Cohn said.

a??This is especially significant in a region where rural ethnic villages have remained separate for many years,a?? Lorna Middlebrough, a USAID spokeswoman, told

Local residents benefited from the project financially, as USAID hired carpenters, masons and concrete workers from surrounding communities for 80 percent of the work needed to construct the bridge. The bridge will boost the local economy and promote tourism in this area known for its beautiful beaches.

Costo di xenical orlistat Fisherman weighs large catch of fish in scale (Gemunu Amarasinghe/USAID)
Buy cheap caverta

In Sri Lanka, a fisherman weighs his catch in a facility built with the help of the U.S. government at a renovated harbor.

a??People can now cross the large Arugam Bay lagoon safely to be with family, seek out resources, move their rice and agricultural products and be part of the rebuilding of their country in this previously devastated tsunami- and conflict-prone area,a?? said Rick Robertson, a USAID contractor.


To strengthen the countrya??s economy by training young people in trades, USAID built and equipped nine new vocational schools in eastern and southern Sri Lanka. The schools will teach 16 different skill trades a?? including masonry, plumbing, welding, apparel, engine repair and computer training a?? to 2,000 students a year.

According to U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives Robert Blake, a??Of all the initiatives by the United States to help Sri Lanka recover from the tsunami, promoting vocational training is in many ways our most important project. Training young people in vocational trades will help to provide good paying jobs in the near future and will help boost both family income and the economic health of the districts and of Sri Lanka as a whole.a??

USAID worked closely with Sri Lankan businesses to determine which trades were in demand and to develop appropriate curricula to ensure the skills acquired by the students fit the needs of the growing economy.

a??This approach, along with first-class facilities and equipment, improved the image of vocational training in Sri Lanka and provided a model for the Sri Lankan government to consider in future planning with the private sector,a?? Cohn said.

Most of the new reconstruction projects were built to high environmental standards. One vocational school was the regiona??s first to achieve the a??greena?? building industrya??s Silver LEED certification of sustainability.


In July, USAID finalized a $13 million renovation and expansion of three fishing harbors in southern Sri Lanka, boosting the nation’s fishing industry and improving the economic outlook for 15,000 families.

Construction projects were designed with community input. While planning harbor renovations, the USAID team met with local fishermen to ensure the facilities would meet their needs, Cohn said. For example, the location of the auction halls and sinks were based on input from those who would use them.


In Maldives, two water plants now operate with reverse osmosis technology to produce clean drinking water from seawater for 9,000 island residents who never before had access to treated water.

In southeastern Sri Lanka, a new water supply, treatment and distribution system opened in November, providing the first-ever treated water supply for 40,000 people.

a??Schoolchildren were even filling up buckets of treated water at school to bring the clean water home,a?? Cohn said.

More information is available at the Web site of USAID Sri Lanka.

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